JOÃO, D. (? ? Vila Viçosa, 1583)
6th Duke of Braganza, 1st Duke of Barcelos.
Dom João was born before 1547 and was Dom Teodósio and Dona Isabel of Lencastre?s only son. He was still a child when King João III arranged his marriage to his first cousin Dona Catarina, daughter of Dom Duarte and Dona Isabel, Duke Teodósio?s sister.
In 1562, when he was approximately 15 years old he was given house and, on August the 4th, Dom Sebastião granted him the title of Duke of Barcelos (from this day on this title was granted to the Dukes of Braganza?s first-born sons). This title could be used by Dom João?s future son, even while his grand-father, Dom Teodósio, Duke of Braganza, was still alive. That same year, on August the 8th, a contract was signed which allowed him to marry Dona Catarina the following year, on December the 8th. The ceremony took place in the Royal Palace and, unlike the wedding traditions of the House of Braganza, with no big festivities, due to the mourning period over Duke Teodósio?s recent death (Dom João had taken over the administration of the House of Braganza on September the 20th 1563).
The Duke maintained a good relationship with King Sebastião and accompanied him, in September 1574, when he first went to Northern Africa (to Ceuta and Tangier). Dom João took with him 600 knights and 200 infantrymen recruited in his lands. While he was absent, Dona Catarina governed the House of Braganza, a task she embraced again after his death.
During the king?s second expedition to Morocco, in 1578, Dom João?s retinue was ready to leave when he got sick, with fever. The departure was postponed, but the Duke did not recover on time. Instead he sent, to represent him, the Duke of Barcelos, Dom Teodósio and it was this ten year-old who led this impressive retinue. He was made prisoner in the Battle of Alcazarquivir, from which King Sebastião did not return.
Dom Filipe of Spain took part in the process of freeing Dom Teodósio, but he delayed the moment of delivering him to his parents, trying to convince them to abandon their pretentions to the throne. During this dynastical crisis, the Duchess of Braganza, Dona Catarina, the grand-daughter of King Manuel I, was one of the strongest claimants to the Portuguese throne. Duke João supported his wife?s claims by writing to the Kings of France, to the Queen of England and to the pope.
Dom Filipe II of Spain, in a new attempt to bribe them, offered them the Vice-kingdom of Brazil, the Algarve, the title of Grand-Master of the Order of Christ, permission to send a ship to India every year and the marriage of their heir, Dom Diogo, to one of his daughters. Dona Catarina, who wanted to be the Queen of Portugal, refused.
Ultimately, the dukes accepted Filipe II as the king of Portugal. In the Cortes of Tomar the new king awarded Duke João the Order of the Golden Fleece, confirmed his title of His Excellency and endowed him the post of constable of the Kingdom (which had belonged to the Braganza family in the past).
Before he returned to Spain, the king awarded the Duke of Braganza the license to get from India, for six years, free of taxes, 100 quintals of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The Duke spent his last years in Vila Viçosa, where he died on February the 22nd 1583.
SOUSA, António Caetano de, História Genealógica da Casa Real Portuguesa, tomo VI, nova edição revista por M. Lopes de Almeida e César Pegado, Coimbra, Atlântida Livraria Editora, 1948.
Author: Maria Dávila
Translated by: Dominique Faria